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Chiu 11, San Francisco 4, Mta 3, Hayes 3, Divisadero 2, Us 2, Luis Montoya 2, Gutters 1, Sf 1, Panhandle 1, Haight Noriega 1, The City 1, Crosswalk 1, Unloading 1, Mason Yiic 1, Reiskin 1, Lawrence Lee 1, Elizabeth Stampe 1, Mr. Chapner 1, Steve 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    December 15, 2012
    5:30 - 6:00am PST  

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crowded neighborhood. it's shocking to me that the city would -- with a straight face, think that this was not some kind of a significant impact that would at least warrant environmental review. i'm not saying ultimately whether the project should or should not be adopted, but to think that it's entitled to some kind of a categorical exemption is a minor alteration is absolutely shocking to me as a member of the public. i am personally very concerned about these plantares in the middle of the street. if they get into intersections, and you're someone trying to walk with a cane, these plantares will be a major concern to me, as someone who has a visual issue as i walk down the street, looking for things that are abnormal, like a plantar, will really throw my path to travel off and could cause me to veer directly into
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traffic, given the fatals just cr yesterday on biel and market, as someone with all of their census walking into the intersection was just killed yesterday on biel and market. i'm shocked that this city would really think that this project, on fell street, and oak street, with such a large number of folks who are impacted, should be approved without some kind of an environmental review. i have worked in the environmental review area at various times -- >> president chiu: thank you very much. next speaker. >> my name is -- i live and work in that neighborhood, and i own a business at the corner of oak and divis. i'm also shocked there is no review at all of the impact on the streets and the delivery systems and all the things that are happening in that area.
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if you even try to block the streets with some cones and test it out for a minute to see what the real impact is, it will probably give us a better picture of what this feels and looks like. i've been delivering in that area for -- since -- at least 15, 18 years. and i drive through that street all the time, day in and day out. and i really feel like a real true study is very important to that area. i'm all for the safety of the bikers and i'm all for bikes. i ride bikes myself. i just don't feel this is the right way to do it without getting the right study done. thank you. >> i apologize, i have a little bit of a cold. i live in the neighborhood. i can echo a lot of the other constituents that our concern with young kids and a family is yes, you ride bikes and it's an integral part. but when you look at
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san francisco and how the city interacts and the infrastructure these are key areas for both a residential, commercial, and also distribution of thoroughfares through the city so major changes in how it's structured could have a dramatic and material impact on how people get to work and how the city flows. so i think it is important -- as of now, no one really has a thorough understanding of what the impact would be because practically no studies have been done. so before we really make major changes, it is important to go through the steps. and don't put ourselves in a position where we make a -- harmful impact by eliminating some of the major thoroughfares through the city. >> good evening. my name is -- 7:30 pm last night divisadero and oak, bicyclist running a red light, three pedestrians entering the
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crosswalk, look of shock in their eyes. to avoid hitting anything or anybody, the bicyclist swerved and turned into oncoming traffic. fortunately no one was injured. fortunately nobody was hurt. these types of incidents are going on all the time in our neighborhood. and as you probably -- some of you also realize in other parts of the city, but specifically for this neighborhood, we need to look at the impact on pedestrians, we need an environmental review that goes to the issue about what's going on with pedestrians in our neighborhood. i've stood on oak street, and i've counted pedestrians, i've counted cars, i've counted bicyclists. on oak street, especially between broderick and divisadero, the number one traffic of course are vehicles,
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followed by pedestrians, and a distant third are bicyclists. we have a very large number of pedestrians in the area. and by adding more bicycles to a very heavily congested area -- these are multiple casualties waiting to happen. again, foot traffic in the area is major. i ask you to do the right thing, to do some study on safety to pedestrians in the area. there's -- again, we have pedestrians going to the falletti's shopping center. we have pedestrians along divisadero, we have pedestrians along oak, going from haight ashbury all the way -- >> president chiu: thank you very much. thank you.
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thank you. next speaker. >> good evening. my name's steve and i'm a passionate cyclist as well as a father living on scott and fell. and the reason this needs an environmental impact report is because already, the environment has become hostile. because all the neighbors and business owners know i'm a cyclist i hear every day the grievances how this is a serious negative impact on their lives, on the ability to live in the neighborhood, not only for customers and parking, but for dealing with picking up kids, dealing with even environmental reasons like sound. my house now used to have cars parked out there, they were a nice buffer, now there's a ricochet of a wall blasting on my window. i think i'll stick with the environmental issues because there's a better plan -- i mean the other plans were drawn up to benefit cyclists. i'm a cyclist -- cycling first. this is a four lane freeway,
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cars going faster, they're using ann and scott on fell cars flip-flop immediately. we have 10 cars -- it's probably the craziest design i've ever seen and by far not safer than the way it was previously. i please hope you give some environmental review. thank you. >> president chiu: thanks. next speaker. >> thank you. my name is wendy cook and i'm a resident in the neighborhood. this is my first civic project. i've never been involved in anything that involves local city government before. and i went started going to the meetings, because i was interested. i'm not a renter, i'm not an owner, i have nothing to lose except looking at this project as somebody who might be impacted because there might be more cars in the neighborhood, circling for parking. but i did write a letter because when i started to attend the meetings, i started to hear things like oh, we don't have to
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do that, we don't have to do that, sf mta can govern itself and we don't have to do, and it actually concerned me as a policy for the city and as a resident of the city that there are agencies that are self-governing and don't feel like they have to comply with statutes that other businesses have had to, like filleti plaza being an example. they had to do an environmental impact study on something that was a smaller area within the neighborhood. so i just wanted to make the case that i think that it is a good idea to evaluate this as a precedent for a city where there are -- there isn't a beltway. there isn't a way for people to get north, south, east, and west without using surface streets. maybe the best thing for safety is to maybe consider certain streets as through-put for cars and others are better and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
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thank you. >> president chiu: thanks. next speaker. >> thank you. my name's -- and i am the owner of fullton food shop on fulton and mason yiic and i have a gren zone that i pay for on masonic for loading, unloading, a customer to make a quick run late night and you're taking away this option by taking away the parking. that's not going to be the right thing. i just don't see why taking away the parking is going to make it better environmental and safer for pedestrians and people who live on masonic. thank you. >> president chiu: any other members of the public wish to speak on behalf of the appellants? seeing none, why don't we now hear from the planning department. you have up to 10 minutes for describing the grounds of your determination that the project is exempt from environmental review. >> good afternoon, president chiu, members of the board. i am brent bowling jer,
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environmental planner with the planning department. joining me is victoria wise, senior planner and project supervisor for the sf mta fell and oak street bikeways project that is the subject of today's appeal. also here today is luis montoya, mta project manager and other mta staff to answer questions. during testimony today, planning department continues to find that the project categorical exemption determination was adequate, accurate and fulfilled the city's requirements pursuant to ceqa guidelines in chapter 31 of the san francisco administrative code. decisions before the board is whether to uphold the department's decision to issue a categorical exemption and deny the appeal or return the project to department for additional
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environmental review. as detailed in the categorical exemption the department concluded fell and oak street categorical exemption under ceqa guideline section or class 1c section 15304h or class 4h. the proposed implementation of bulbouts, on street parking changes, and enhancement of the bike lane would be -- under the class 1(c) which revises exemption to existing highways and streets, sidewalks, gutters, bicycle and pedestrian trails and similar facilities. the changes contemplated by the project are considered minor or negative liberal as they would be implemented within the right of way on both fell and oak streets and do not fundamentally change the system in the project
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vicinity. prohibiting parking would be a minor alteration of the right of way. both fell and oak streets would remain three through-travel lanes and there would be no expansion of existing use of the street as the project does not generate vehicle travel trips. in addition the traffic island sidewalk bulbouts and advanced limit lines would be -- minor alterations to the existing street or right of way due to their small size and negligible change to the existing transportation facility. the proposed implementation of a new bike lane and buffer within the existing oak street right of way would be appropriate within the definition of ceqa guidelines class 4h which provides exemption for environmental review for creation of a new bicycle lane on existing rights of way. the appellant issues in the appeal letters include topics such as transit, public safety, emergency loading, air quality,
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parking removal and cumulative analysis. regarding traffic the categorical exemption concluded the traffic would not result in significant impact to traffic since implementation of the proposed project, the level of service at the intersection would continue to operate at acceptable levels. regarding transit, public projed not result in -- such that traffic redistribution to side streets would occur. as such muni line 21 hayes, 71 haight noriega and 6 parnassus would not operate any slower and would not result in significant impact. regarding pedestrian safety, project includes sidewalk bulbouts as well as enhanced -- markings and advanced limit lines at intersections of majority of corners in the project area. through increased pedestrian visibility and -- crossing at
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that intersection pedestrian conditions would improve. therefore no significant pedestrian impaction would occur with implementation of the project. the project would not generate any additional traffic trips or substantially reduce the roadway capacity and would not significantly alter the transportation network. this finding is supported by the traffic analysis conducted for the project. the traffic analysis was conducted by a licensed mta traffic engineer and reviewed by another licensed mta traffic engineer. it was subsequently thoroughly reviewed by two planning department transportation planners. analysis was conducted by a -- as part of the transportation impact study it would show the same los level of result as in the categorical exemption certificate. in other words the planning department required the same level of analysis to be conducted by mta as it would require for private consultants.
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in conclusion i'd like to restate the department's categorical exemption fully addressed issues raised in the appellants submittal and no further issues have been raised regarding the accuracy of the categorcategorical exemption. under ceqa guidelines for class 1 and 4 exemptions. the appeal letters do not raise any new issues that were not disclosed or discussed in the exemption and do not provide evidence to substantiate a finding the project would result in it significant environmental impact. therefore, i urge you to uphold the department's categorical exemption and deny the appeal. this concludes my presentation and i'm available for questions if the board has any. thank you. >> president chiu: colleagues, any questions to planning? okay. seeing none, let's hear from the project sponsor, who will have up to 10 minutes for their presentation.
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>> good evening, president chiu, members of the board of supervisors. my name is luis montoya. i am the project manager on the oak and fell pedestrian bicycle and safety projects. i wanted to give you background about why it's so important that we do it but i also wanted to respond to the matter at hand which is the ceqa appeal and some of the specific concerns that were raised by the appellants. as you know, this project has been on the front lines of this neighborhood for decades. ever since we've been talking about how to improve the bike network in san francisco and ever since we've been talking about how to increase pedestrian safety, oak street and fell street are three lanes in each direction, four lanes in some places, they carry 30,000-plus cars each day on each street. and people in this neighborhood and people who just move throughout the city have said that these streets don't feel safe, they don't feel comfortable, please do something about it. and it took a while and it took
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some momentum to get us going but we finally did it. we finally brought the community together and we worked over nine months with a variety of stakeholders, local stakeholders, people throughout the city. and we came up with a plan. and that plan went before the mta board. they considered the policy merits of it and decided to pass it unanimously on october 16. again, i just wanted to emphasize because i think it's so important that we were able to engage so many people throughout the community and to come up with a plan that was balanced. and we considered several options. we considered removing a lane of traffic on oak street but oak street is very important for vehicle traffic and people throughout the city, in the western neighborhoods and as well in the eastern neighborhoods who use this street to access, you know, 19th avenue to get to the golden gate bridge or octavia to the 101 that it was important we not increase congestion. i know appellants have stated this project will somehow
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increase congestion in the neighborhood but our detailed thorough analyze plainly states it won't. we are minimally affecting the road capacity by just removing a travel lane for two hours of the day. currently there's a fourth lane on two blocks of oak street for two hours of the day. and that is what we're planning on replacing with parking. we're also adding back -- sorry, we're also adding turning lanes on the street where they don't currently sphift s exist so that will facilitate turns. i think they try to make a common sense argument that, by removing parking or making any change to the street it's going to increase traffic congestion and it simply won't. also, a claim this they made was that the project will inhibit driveway access or inhibit access for people who need to get dropped off at their homes. again it simply won't. we have worked carefully with stakeholders from the pedestrian safety community, from the bicycle safety community, from
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the disability advocates community, to come up with a plan to make sure that the facility designs so that it's flexible so it's wide enough that taxis, paratransit vehicles can access it, street sweeping can sweep the space, emergency accessing of course. we worked with members of the fire department and will continue to work with them as we refine the design to make sure it is working for everybody who needs to use that space. and also another thing that was brought up was about safety, and this is something that has driven the project from the start. the reason we came to do this project was because we wanted to increase safety for people who choose to ride a bike and people who would like to ride a bike and also people who walk in the neighborhood which is why the project includes 12 bulbouts throughout the project, to decrease the road with, we're also enhancing intersections to make them more visible, we're adjusting traffic signal timing
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so they slow down the cars marginally. they will still able to progress smoothly but just doing it as a slower pace and that was really done to keep in mind the broad project goals that we brought forth, pedestrian safety, bike safety, and maintaining neighborhood livability. i can speak in detail about the project outreach that we've done, the three community meetings that we held at night on weekends, over 500 people that attended those meetings, 15 additional focus meetings with community advocates, with local neighbors, with business owners. and if you wish i could go on and on. but really i think what it comes down to as the supervisor's correctly pointed out is the merits of the ceqa appeal and i think the planning department did an excellent job of responding to those comments. with that i'll leave it to you and open it up for questions. >> president chiu: colleagues, any questions? okay. at this time, why don't we -- supervisor olague. >> supervisor olague: one of the issues that keep coming up
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is the issue of the bulbouts. what is your response to that. >> as it was stated in the appeal, i believe supervisor, is what you're asking is that bulbouts will slow down traffic to the point that they should be analyzed as increasing traffic congestion. and really bulbouts, which are the corner widening of the sidewalk in order to increase visibility of people before they step off the curb and also, yes, to slow down cars as they turn it but really we looked at it and even if you looked at it in detail, and you said a car was slowing down it might be by a second and not every car is turning at every intersection where the bulbouts are. yes hopefully they will slow down to increase safety but it's not in any measurable way that it will increase congestion. >> supervisor olague: i think they were referring specifically to the two that were going to be i believe at broderick and fell. is that right? >> right. >> supervisor olague: and they
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said there was some mention that it would have an impact on safety vehicles, and loading and unloading. i'm wondering if you could respond to that. >> yeah. that's a good point. mr. chapner pointed that out at the ta board hearing that we deleted one of the bulbs from the the proposal because of of the -- it was that felleti was saying they often double park their cars but you can't tell when they're coming so they have double parked trucks. they said when trucks are double parked you won't be able to make that turn. we had been working with them throughout the project and they were standing firmly in position to that one piece that one of the mta board members motioned that that particular bulb be deleted. but, again, i'll just confirm that all the bulbs have been looked at with turning radiuses in mind to make sure that trucks, including emergency vehicle, could make those turns.
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>> supervisor olague: basically there are no longer two bulbouts there on that street. it's just been -- one has been eliminated. >> correct. >> supervisor olague: and then the other issue that someone mentioned was the traffic study. so i wonder if you could comment on that, that there was no traffic study but many of us were under the impression that there was a traffic study. and it seems to me -- and i was curious to know who conducted that study because there was some comment that it wasn't independent. i'm not quite sure what's meant by that but if you could elaborate a little bit that would be helpful. >> like i mentioned we've been studying this for a year now but it was nine months in the planning process and we conducted traffic counts, and it was mta staff who collected traffic count data. we had an independent party help us collect some of the bike data, but we also collected bike data by ourselves. we collect our own speed
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surveys. and then our ma engineers built a traffic model, a simulation model, using industry accepted standards, the highway capacity manual, 2000 edition, collected by our staff, analyzed by traffic engineers and peer reviewed by another traffic license engineer and ther theres process with the planning department to further fine that to make sure we were capturing all aspects of the project. >> was that published? >> yes. that was part of the exemption -- the cat ex, categorical exemption. >> supervisor olague: this has more to do with the project because the issue keeps coming up and i don't really like to mix the two but we're here. and i heard this in the past, and i've discussed this already with the mta staff. and the rationale and even with
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director reiskin, and that's the rationale behind not using the alternative routes, the paved street and these other routes that folks have proposed over the years. if you could comment on that, even though it doesn't relate to ceqa necessarily. >> sure. so the appellants, and also other members of the community have brought this up during the planning process, what they said was you should really do nothing, you should encourage people to ride on paige street and hayes street in that you shouldn't do anything to oak street and fell street. so we talked to the community about that and we said what if we just directed people to peaje street and hayes street and we won't do anything for people who walk and bike on fell. they said you have to execute more turns to get there, takes 20% longer and there's also hills. in fact in order to get up to paige from the panhandle it's like a 12% grade.
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to put that in terms of energy expended it's about four times the amount of effort to get up that 12% grade as it would be to go down oak street as you normally would. so people said it's out of the way, it's slower, it's taxing on what's already a lot of people do a long commute from the west down to downtown. so it just was not a desirable route for people who ride a bike. some people choose to go that way. some people prefer to ride in mixed traffic on those streets, you know, streets and stop signs but more people would prefer to ride in a separate facility on oak and fell and that they would prefer traffic signals as opposed to the stop signs and on the flattest route. >> supervisor olague: how does this relate to the bike plan. is there any reference to some of these projects? >> actually the planning department could probably speak better to that. >> to answers your question, supervisor olague, the oak
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street introduction of a new bike lane on oak street was included as a long-term improvement project in the bike lane, but did not receive specific environmental review because the project designs were not available, or weren't created for the best specific project. other aspects of the project fall under the minor improvements that were outlined in the bike plan, and those are, you know, the different advanced -- lines and -- boxes and things like that. and those are -- those were the only aspects of the project that were outlined in the bike plan eir. >> supervisor olague: traffic lanes aren't removed. >> no. it's just only the oak street and am commute traffic lane being removed. >> supervisor olague: for a couple of hours? >> that's just turning -- they're using -- literally create that bike lane. >> supervisor olague: thank you. >> president chiu: colleagues, any other questions to the mta?
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seeing none, why don't we hear now from members of the public that wish to speak on behalf of the project sponsor, ask folks if you can keep your comments to less than two minutes. first speaker please. >> my name is lawrence lee, i'm on the board of lower haight merchants and neighbors association. i would like to reiterate that yeah, we were involved with extensive outreach that the city put on. and during all that outreach, members of the community were invited to weigh in on various options, and elements. and the solution that was eventually approved was something that we were in favor of, which included minor alterations to the existing conditions that namely traded parking for safer travel for bicycles and pedestrians. so with that in mind, we support planning department determination of the project's
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exemption because the appeal does not support our neighborhood's need for improved safety for the residents, or visitors coming into our neighborhood. and this project is very important. it does serve our neighborhood significantly. in fact, delays to this project would be harmful to our safety and we're quite concerned about that. so we urge you to always uphold these type of exemptions because, you know, this is how we are able to make improvements to our neighborhood. thank you. >> president chiu: next speaker please. >> good evening, supervisors. i'm elizabeth stampe, executive director of walk san francisco. and i'm here to encourage you to reject this appeal and affirm the planning